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Sidewalks of White Plains

Report from "The Big A"

Hospital forced city to settle over "phantom grants" not funded yet by state.

Amy Paulin's Office: Assembly wants to cut $350MM from $500 Million Pataki biotech research initiative.

Assembly budget calls for $143MM in Centers for Excellence (five $28 Million Grants, in 2001, $319 Million over five years. Each Center to specialize in a different discipline.

Oppenheimer Office: Centers for Excellence funding "not on radar" in State Senate at this time. Education, medicare cuts to be negotiated first.

Dispute over how much to spend for education, cut medicare preoccupies senate at expense of Pataki biomedical initiative.

Competition for Center for Excellence Grants seen stiffer and differences between the two houses cast doubt on hospital getting a grant in place this year

by John F. Bailey


CityLine: March 21, 2001 -- Albany, NY and Port Chester, NY

Two of White Plains legislators in Albany have indicated through their offices that Governor Pataki's biomedical initiative is a long way off from becoming funded, and that the Assembly wants to slash the Governor's $500 Million initiative by more than Half.

New York Presbyterian Hospital told the Common Council the City of White Plains in February that it was contending for one of Governor Pataki's Centers for Excellence biomedical grants. The grant was calculated at $50 Million and would help fund its proton accelerator-equipped, cancer research center planned for Bryant Avenue. In fact, in threatening the city to sue for three times the city annual budget, the grant was a major factor in building damage claims in the hospital-threatened suit.

However, WPCNR has learned, according to both Assemblyperson Amy Paulin's Office and State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer's offices, that the Center for Excellence Grants are a long way off from being funded by the senate and assembly.

The situation in Albany on the Pataki biomedical initiative containing the Centers for Excellence Grants is dicey at this time.

Republican Majority Leader Joseph Bruno submitted the Senate budget proposal this week calling for $500 Million in incentives for the biotechnology industry.

Beth Hofsteder, spokesperson for State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer, speaking from Port Chester, told WPCNR that $283 Million of that amount is to be earmarked for Centers of Excellence around the state. She said however that the Senate is taking up the matters of education funding and the governor's proposed medicare cuts first, saying the biotech funding was "not even on the radar" at this time.

The Assembly Majority Democrats are issuing their budget this week. Ellen Likovich, Media Secretary, for Assemblyperson Amy Paulin, released the following statement to WPCNR on the Assembly position on the Governor's initiative:

"The Assembly proposes investing $145 million in biotechnology/biomedicine research, development and commercialization projects. The Assembly also calls for the creation of five university-based collaborations of research and academic institutions, industry associations and private-sector, technology-based companies.

Overall, the Assembly proposes investing $143 million ($319 million during the next five years) in Centers for Excellence. Each Center would have a specific technology focus, among them bioinformatics, photonics, nanoelectronics, software and information technology and environmental technology. The Assembly also seeks to invest more than $3 million ($15 million during the next five years) for energy technologies and invests $27.6 Million in efforts to bring innovation to the marketplace."

Ms. Hofsteder of the Oppenheimer office, said the grants would be administered by the Urban Development Corporation under Charles Gardano. She described the Senate proposal on the Centers of Excellence as "very vague," and did not have any more details on the senate plan.

Today's legislature intelligence indicates grants the hospital used last month as a basis for forcing the city to settle their lawsuit are simply proposals even as of today. There was no funding in place or budgeted in the state budget at the time the hospital was telling the city they were eligible for this grant.

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